5 Ways to Get Tomato Sauce Out of Different Types of Clothes

Go ahead and eat that saucy meatball grinder. Even if some sauce winds up on your shirt (or any of your other clothes), our methods can help you get it out.

Updated March 27, 2024
Shirt with Ketchup Sauce

Pizza! Spaghetti! Ketchup! All delicious and super fun to eat. Right up until you drop them on your clothes (been there!). Then, those yummy tomato sauces have the potential to ruin your fave duds, and they stop being delicious and start being a bummer. Don't toss out those clothes just yet. Instead, use our tested methods to get tomato sauce out of clothes and enjoy your meatball sub worry-free. 

How to Remove Tomato Sauce From Clothes

The best way to remove tomato sauce from clothes is to catch it early, scrape away excess sauce, run the back side of the fabric under cold tap water, apply straight dish detergent to the fresh stain, and then run the back side of the fabric under cold water again until the stain lifts. If that doesn't work, we have several other methods to help when tomato sauce stains aren't fresh (who hasn't spilled and not noticed it until much later?) or when they seem really stuck in the fabric. 

Helpful Hack

Rinsing stains from the back of the fabric pushes the stain out. Rinsing from the front pushes it further into the fabric. So you should always rinse from the back and always use cold water so you don't set the stain. 

Use Soap and Cold Water to Remove Fresh Tomato Sauce Stains

remove fresh tomato stain

It doesn't really matter what the source of the tomato sauce stain is — what matters is how quickly you catch it and what you do with it. So, when you first drop that red sauce on your clothes, stop eating, remove the garment, and do the following.

  1. Use a spoon to gently remove any excess tomato sauce, being careful not to push the sauce into the fabric.
  2. Rinse the stain from the backside with cold water. Don't use warm or hot water, and don't rinse through the front. It helps to stretch the fabric taut as you run the water through it.
  3. Wet a cloth and apply a drop of Dawn dish soap on the front side of the stain, and work it around with your fingers. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Dab at the area with a wet cloth. Don't rub because that can set the stain in deeper.
  5. Rinse from the back side again under cold water until the stain lifts. 
  6. Launder as usual.
  7. Hang to dry and check for any remaining stains.
  8. If the stain remains, mix a paste of equal parts baking soda and water. Spread it over the stain on the right side of the fabric.
  9. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
  10. Rinse and repeat steps 2-8.
Need to Know

Don't run the garment through the dryer until you're sure the stain has lifted, as the dryer will set any remaining stain in the fabric. 

How to Remove Set-in Tomato Sauce Stains From Clothes

We all miss stains from time to time, but even if a stain is set in, it may not be impossible to remove. 

  1. Pull the fabric taut and run cold water through the back of the stained area.
  2. Add a bit of Dawn dish detergent to the area.
  3. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes.
  4. Rub an ice cube over the stain for a minute or so.
  5. Blot with a white cloth.
  6. For any remaining stain, spray it with vinegar.
  7. Blot the area with a clean white cloth until the rest of the stain is gone.
  8. Launder as normal.
  9. Hang to dry and repeat as needed.

Related: Don't Give Up! 4 Methods for Removing Old Stains From Clothes

Use Bleach to Remove Tomato Sauce Stains From White Clothes

Bleach works to remove tomato stains from white clothes after pre-treating the stain. Use one of the processes above. Then, add the recommended amount of bleach to the wash. This will help to fight any remaining tomato particles. Always check to see if the stain is gone before you put the garment through the dryer. 

Use Dawn & an Ice Cube to Get Rid of Tomato Stains on Dark Clothes

The biggest issue with dark clothes is the oil in the tomato sauce, which will leave a dark stain if you don't get it out. Fortunately, dish detergent is formulated to clean greasy stuff, and we especially love Dawn dish detergent. Here's what you need to do.

  1. Apply Dawn to the stain.
  2. Rub it in with an ice cube. 
  3. Saturate a clean white cloth with vinegar.
  4. Blot at the stain until it lifts.
  5. Launder as usual.
  6. Air dry and make sure the stain is gone. If it's still there, follow the process for removing set-in stains. 

How to Remove Tomato Sauce Stain From Leather Clothing

If you accidentally spill tomato sauce on your leather clothing, don't panic. Follow these steps to get rid of it.

  1. Use a cloth or spoon to remove as much tomato sauce as possible.
  2. Mix cold water with a few drops of Dawn.
  3. Agitate to create suds.
  4. Grab the suds with a clean sponge.
  5. Use the suds to scrub the stain.
  6. Wipe with a lightly damp cloth.
  7. Dry with a cloth.
  8. Condition with a little saddle soap.
Need to Know

If the stain remains or it's a particularly delicate piece of suede, consult with a professional leather cleaner. 

Kiss Tomato Sauce Stains Good Bye

With the combo of tomatoes and oil that's in most sauces, getting tomato sauce stains out of clothes takes a deft touch. But these methods can make tomato sauce stains disappear. 

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5 Ways to Get Tomato Sauce Out of Different Types of Clothes